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China reports no domestic virus cases as imported infections increase

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Medics from north China's Tianjin Municipality wave goodbye before their departure in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, March 17, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiong Qi)

BEIJING (AFP) – China reported no new local cases of the deadly coronavirus on Monday, but confirmed another 39 infections brought in from overseas.

Nine more people died, the National Health Commission said, all in the epicentre city of Wuhan where the virus first emerged late last year.

Two months after China took the dramatic steps to lock down some 56 million people in Wuhan and the surrounding province of Hubei, infections have slowed dramatically, and for five consecutive days there have been no new cases in the province.

Travel and work restrictions in the province have been gradually eased and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan earlier this month – his first since the crisis erupted.

As the rate of infection slows in China, the rest of the world has stepped up measures to try and battle the raging pandemic.

China is anxious about an influx of infections brought in from other countries, with the number of imported cases climbing steadily over recent weeks to pass 350.

Of the 39 new cases reported Monday, ten were in Shanghai and ten were in Beijing.

Many cities have brought in tough rules to quarantine new arrivals, and the country’s aviation authorities announced Sunday that it would divert all Beijing-bound international flights to other cities where they will be screened for the virus.

There have now been over 81,000 cases in China, and the death toll has reached 3,270.

The outbreak has killed 15,189 people worldwide.

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